I had a seven-month relationship with a man that turned into an absolute nightmare. The first three months were great – we got engaged, and as soon as soon as he put a ring on my finger, the real him came out. It was a lot of emotional, financial and mental abuse. When the holes started appearing in my walls from his kicks and punches, I knew that we had to get out.

I ended the relationship but he began stalking us and things escalated. He slept outside my house in his car, he called every 45 minutes throughout the night. One of my friends called the police and they caught him outside my daughter’s school. Two days later he was given a domestic violence order and we had to take off because he still didn’t stop.

I had half a tank of fuel and $12. We drove for six hours to somewhere I knew was safe. My daughter was 11 at the time and there was nothing I could do to comfort her, there was nothing I could give her. We assumed we’d be home within a week but it took over two months to catch this man. In that time, we reported over 1800 breaches of his domestic violence order to the police, which is how Lil Bug Love became part of our life.

My daughter didn’t want to leave my side, she was so scared. In the police station, everything I had shielded her from was playing out in front of her. I couldn’t protect her in that interview room, she was listening to it over and over, and I had to censor myself.

I was sitting down with her out the back of where we were hiding and we were talking about how unfair all this was on her. We came up with the idea to make kits for children who have no alternative but to go with their parents to police stations in these awful situations.

I have local crafts groups making little hand-knitted snails and they all come with a promise card, promising the child that they’ll never be left behind. We’ve got handmade canvas bags because my daughter had nothing but a grey shopping bag with her. We have pencil cases, headphones, packs of pencils and a kids’ Helpline card. We also have custom-made activity and colouring-in books, but my proudest thing is the 12 blank pages at the back of those books. My daughter’s a writer and I want to say to these kids, ‘Please express yourself.’

What we’re doing hasn’t been done before, but the police have been amazing. We have 11 police stations trialling our Lil Bug Love kits in Logan, QLD. Police in Tasmania are interested and Global Sisters has helped me turn this into something amazing that is helping kids and their parents.

I’m still trying to find our new normal and it’s hard, but I’ve never felt more supported. Lil Big Love is helping me stay strong enough to be able to help my kids. I don’t ever want my kids thinking that this has only happened to us, this happens to too many kids.

My daughter’s 14 and the effect of the trauma I am seeing in her now is what I hope our kits minimise. By putting them in a love bubble, they’re a little bit protected from what’s going on so that deep-rooted trauma is not flowing through them for years. I’m just one mum saying ‘There’s more we can do.’

Through attending the Global Sisters business education programs Cindy was able to shape a plan around her passion, and create a viable social enterprise rather than a “project”.

“Global Sisters found me and I accidently started a business. Even through Sister School it didn’t make sense to me until the last session. Because of what I’m doing I couldn’t get my head around how that idea could be an income or a business. I was like, I’m just doing a charity and people need to give to me so I can give back and I didn’t know how I could turn it into something that sustained itself. And that’s what Global Sisters has shown me. Global Sisters has shown me that I can do both. I can generate an income and still fix other people’s kids. Global Sisters gives you permission to start your idea, and the encouragement to go you can do this”.

Cindy is a woman on a mission and has made astonishing progress in a short period of time. Starting a social enterprise on your own, however, is tough and Cindy receives on-going support from the local Global Sisters Accelerator Leads to address both business and emotional challenges of a new enterprise. A vital part of this journey is the support she has given and received through the Sister Tribe, the Global Sisters community of other Sisters, business coaches and team.

The Global Sisters community has provided opportunities for Cindy to further raise awareness and funding of this important cause. Christine from Global Sisters invited Cindy to speak at her September networking event where she connected with one of the women in the crowd. Following this event, Cindy attended an event where 103 participants were asked to suggest a charity or cause, they chose Lil Bug Love and they challenged them to raise $50,000. So far $58,000 has been raised and still counting. https://lilbuglove.org/

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